Lone Canuck Publishing (2017)
Country of Origin:
24" x 32" historical map, 4-page historical summary, 18 pages of rules, 5 scenarios, 1 campaign game
Drive for Saint Lô (DSL) is a smallish historical module from George Kelln at Lone Canuck Publishing, the latest in a series of such modules dependent upon Kelln’s new-found mapmaking skills. It features actions depicting part of the attempt in July 1944 by the Americans to capture the French town of Saint Lô, key to the Allied efforts to break out of the Normandy bridgehead.
The origins of this module are a bit mysterious, in that the playtester credits seem to mention a number of ASLers from the Winnipeg ASL Club in the 1990s and early 2000s, including several now-deceased persons. Yet it doesn’t seem too likely that this module was actually in the works in the 1990s (when third party historical modules were much rarer).
The module is centered around its 24″ x 32″ historical map, with generous 1″ hexes. There shouldn’t really be a problem fitting it on the gaming table. The artwork is crisp and clear, if a little computery (the grain fields, for example, are razor-sharp). The area depicted is a gradual upwards slope, covering 6 levels in all (if one counts streams/gullies), making one half of the map very green and the other half of the map very brown. Various hamlets dot the map but the major terrain feature here is bocage. Bocage, bocage, bocage. If you can’t cope with these hedges on steroids, then DSL may not be the module for you.
DSL provides 18 pages of rules, almost all of which are for the included Tactical Mission (i.e., campaign game). Otherwise, there are just a few rules clarifying terrain issues, meaning that players can jump right into the scenarios without having to absorb a bunch of new rules first. The campaign game rules are basically built on the Red Barricades model.
The campaign game, TM1 (Drive for Saint Lô), is a small, five-date campaign game that, combined with the single map, makes it rather convenient for play. It features elements of the U.S. 137th Infantry Regiment of the 35th Infantry Division attacking elements of the German Kampfgruppe Kentner, formed from the 352nd Infantry Division. Both sides have a reasonable number of purchasing options, but neither side has much in the way of exotic or “fun” options.
DSL also comes with 5 scenarios. Most use only a small portion of the map, although one of them, DSL 5 (The Drive for Saint Lô), does use the whole playing area.
DSL 1 (La Petite Ferme) is a la petite scenario, pitting 7 crappy American squads and two tank destroyers against 6.5 German squads.
DSL 2 (The Right Nostril) is hardly larger. It features another American attack, with 10 crappy squads, two crews with dismantled 81mm MTRs, and two Sherman tanks. The defending Germans have 5 squads (also crappy), an AT gun, and two crews manning HMGs.
DSL 3 (The Left Nostril), the second nasal-themed scenario, is ore or less the same. This American attack features 11.5 crappy American squads (the 35th Division was new to combat) and a near-six pack of mortars (2 x 81mm and 3 x 60mm) pitted against 8 crappy German squads, 3 HMG (!), 2 x 81mm MTRs, and every mine ever made. The Americans also get a Creeping Barrage and Air Support, so there’s that.
DSL 4 (La Mare-Le Carillon Nose), the third nasal-themed scenario (I already had to take some Allegra) features–you guessed it–another American attack. The Americans have 11.5 crappy squads, 4 MG, 3 BAZ, 3 x 60mm MTR, 2 x 81mm MTR, and 4 Sherman tanks. They also get 105mm OBA and Air Support. The Germans have 11 (mostly)crappy squads, 5 medium or heavy MGs, 3 AT guns, 2 81mm MTRs, some fortifications and a lot of mines, and 2 Marders. The Marders, three elite squads, plus an 8-1 leader, a FT, and 3 DCs make up a reinforcement group for the Germans that enter mid-game. This scenario is typical of a lot of George Kelln scenarios in its over-abundance of SW. The Americans have 11.5 squad-equivalents, plus three crews. Two of the crews are for the 81mm MTRs; the other crew is anyone’s guess. This leaves 12 squad-equivalents that together will have 10 SW. In other words, almost every squad will have a SW. The Germans, between their initial forces and reinforcements, have 12 squads, plus three vehicular crews that are apparently intended to man SW. They have 11 SW total. So again, the great majority of squads and crews will have a SW.
DSL 5 (The Drive for Saint Lô), is the “big” scenario in the module, a 10-turn action that uses the entire map. As with every other scenario, it features an American attack. In this case, the Americans have two groupings with a total of 27 squad-equivalents, 6 MMG, 6 HMG (!), 6 x 60mm MTR, 4 BAZ, and 4 x 81mm MTR. They also get five “divisional support elements” that must be allocated no more than three to each of the two American groupings. The elements include an Engineer Platoon with 3 squads, a leader, an FT, and 3 DC; a module of 105mm OBA; a module of 155mm OBA; a Tank Destroyer Platoon with 4 tank destroyers; and a Tank Platoon with 4 Shermans.
The defending Germans have only 13 squad equivalents, but lots of fortifications, as well as 2 MMG, 4 HMG, and 8 Guns and two StuGs.
Given the bocage terrain and the fortifications, it looks like a grueling attack for the Americans (who at least are assaulting north to south, so they are going down the “hill” rather than up it). With their well-protected but small force, the Germans will have to play to minimize casualties and must hope they don’t experience freak sniper attacks or other runs of bad luck that might diminish their numbers still further.
The scenarios don’t really vary that much from each other, so the real draw here is the campaign game, which is small enough to be realistically playable in a reasonable time frame–not requiring too much commitment in time or space. Fans of Normandy will also appreciate this offering.